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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paper Pot Maker and Planting

Seeds in their Paper Pots

The problem with starting an indoor garden in early winter is there are no seedlings for sale.

Frankly, it's pretty hard to find seeds.

I was resigned to simply planting more of the seeds I'd bought earlier this year (i.e., nasty-tasting lettuce, blech). Luckily for me, I happened to drive by Brown's Hardware in Falls Church, VA - a small hardware store that has "existed longer than General Motors - without a bankruptcy." They had a nice collection of seeds still available, so I bought many of the varieties I'd been ogling over at Less expensive and no shipping (and no wait).

In my internet searches, I'd come across the idea of starting plants in recycled pots - most elegantly paper pots created from strips of newspaper using a cool turned wooden tool, a Pot Maker.

Problem was a Pot Maker runs about $20 and I'd have to wait...

Instead I decided to use a bottle I already had at home. A spice bottle would have worked nicely, but I used an old pill bottle.

First I cut strips 3 1/2" by 16" (I suppose I could have gotten by with 10").

Next I rolled the strip around the bottle so that the free ends would slightly overlap one another when I folded them down. Just because it seemed a good idea, I spiraled the free edge, so that the folded edges were interleaved one ply thickness at a time. I also dipped the free edge in water, in hopes that this might help the plies mesh together.

After tamping the (slightly wet) end of the bottle on the table, I gently slid the paper pot off the bottle and put a single staple in the top edge, where the end of the newspaper tended to gap.

Filled the pot with vermiculite (organic, no added miracle grow) and added fish tank water to each pot. This was water from one of the windowfarm fish tanks, full of fishy goodness.

Rinse and repeat 11 times.

Finally, I planted a single seed in each pot and put a plastic cloche over the whole thing, to keep in moisture. If not all the seeds germinate, that'll be fine. I'll have opportunity to start additional seedlings if need be, and my tilapia fry (or fingerlings) won't get here until January.

1 comment:

  1. Fast forward three months and many of the plants are growing like gang-busters. Loving on the fennel, the marigolds are lovely, the cabbage is *huge*, and so forth.

    My daughter looked at the "tarragon" as commented, "wow - that looks very different from my tarragon, which never grew much. The plant had grown vigorously, but I hadn't done anything with it, since I don't usually use dried tarragon in dishes, much less know what to do with the fresh herb.

    Today I decided to make a dish with the fresh tarragon, which is growing up into the light.

    Long story short. That plant isn't an herb. I don't know what it is. This, you see, is the danger of planting a single seed when you don't actually know what the final plant is supposed to look like.

    What's the chance that a packet of store-bought seed would contain a weed seed. Or that I would plant a single seed, and it would be that weed seed?

    Oh well. In future I think I'll try planting two seeds when growing a plant that is new-to-me...